BY MIKE VORKUNOV
With the college football season long over and the NFL Draft still several months away, now comes the most important part of the year for prospective draft picks. There are the All-Star games, the long days of training at prep facilities and the waiting while teams analyze if you are right for them. It's not easy being an NFL Draft prospect, but some of them have let us behind the curtain and agreed to be part of a journal series leading up to the Draft.
Kevin Haslam, from Mahwah, stayed home to play his college ball at Rutgers. After bouncing between positions he settled in at right tackle, where he started from the middle of his junior year on forward. ESPN Scouts Inc. has Haslam ranked as their 20th best offensive tackle, while DraftCountdown.com has him as No. 14 at the position.Since January 4th Haslam has been preparing for that final weekend in April, including a one-week detour in Orlando, Florida for the East-West Shrine Game. Here is his account of his experience so far in his experience:
On training compared to the regular season:
It's different than the season was after college. You're trying to maintain at college, here you're trying to get to the next level so everything is kicked up a notch. So it's a lot of hard work, it's paying off.
On the East- West Shrine Game experience:
It was an experience, it was good being put in a different atmosphere, being put under pressure, learn an offense and go out and play though you haven't played it before. It's the whole point to see how you react in an environment like that with an NFL coaching staff. It's high pressure environment but it was definitely a lot of fun.
I wouldn't say it was nerve-racking, you just had to stay focused. That's why you're down there. I wouldn't call it nerve-wracking, I would it call it more being a focused person the whole time, trying to stay on the grind.
On what caught him off-guard during the week:
The amount of testing, the paperwork. You walk in and they have two hours of paperwork, like testing to fill in. But that was the only thing that threw me off-guard because I'd never had to take a two-hour test.
On his thoughts of how the week went:
I thought I had a good week, the experience was great. The coaching was great. I just had fun being out there, got to go against some different players that I normally wouldn't go against. Fun people like Lindsey Whitten, who I played against at UConn. I saw some familiar faces, other people just had different feels.
On being back in the daily grind of workouts:
[Laughs] It is good to be working out again, bad to take that week off, almost week and a half, because then you're extra sore again. You kind of have to start over, I've been doing this for a while. I'm a little extra sore right now, but hopefully it will be kicked out by next week and get me back where I was.
On motivation going forward:
It's just the Draft itself is the motivation. Trying to prepare yourself for the Pro Days and everything like that. Just try to get in the best shape I can be, and be the best at whatever I have to do.